|Episode:||26: Cool Wind|
|After that dreadful "sixpack" Yamato is convinced he's done for. Asahina returns to her room, still unable to understand her own feelings [image1]; Yamato notices the light in her room and calls Miki to tell her the search is over.
The next morning Asahina acts as if Yamato wasn't there; at school Yamato discusses the events with Hattori and explains that he won't apologize to Asahina because she doesn't give him a chance at all with her automatic rejection of her own feelings. Hattori concludes that this Kazuki apparently must be more influential on Asahina than they thought - and suggests Yamato to give up on Asahina as he can't beat the idolized image of that guy. But backing down now would mean to agree with Asahina's decision and give up everything he believed in... this isn't an option for the stubborn boy.
At the track&field club Yamato is forcing himself to no end. Miki wonders what exactly happened between him and Asahina, and she explains to Asahina that Yamato only strives for being number one as to feel on the same level as she is - so shouldn't Asahina at least face him properly? On the staircase of their home Yamato and Asahina meet by chance [image2]; Yamato asks whether she will now ignore him forever and demands she should face him properly. Asahina runs away... of course all co-lodgers have overheard the conversation (including the reference to the forced kiss), and Miho-chan is fuming [image3].
At the club both Yamato and Asahina show poor performances despite visibly forcing themselves. Honoka decides to give it a last try and accompanies Asahina on her way home, apologizes to her for her harsh words, explains that she can understand Asahina's behaviour much better now since Miyamoto-senpai told her about Tsuda, and tells her she will quit the track team [image4] as she has to move on in her life despite still being in love with Yamato. And she cajoles Asahina into making her feelings clear to Yamato as both of them look like they're so much in pain, which can't be good for any of them.
Yamato is late for breakfast on sunday morning. But when he learns that Asahina is about to visit the grave of a friend he instantly runs to stop her. Meeting Asahina at her door he asks whether she will continue visiting that grave forever... but to his confusion she invites him to come along. Asahina doesn't speak a word all the way to the grave, and silently prays there for a long time [image5]. But suddenly she begins to talk... to Tsuda-senpai, apologizing that she can't go out with him as she brought along a clumsy, irresponsible, pushy guy whom she likes a lot although they're always fighting. Asahina turns around - and gives Yamato the cutest smile the boy has ever seen!
On the next morning Asahina is waiting for Yamato in front of the house, but being teased by Saotome makes her run away. Yamato chases after her, and he holds her hand, trembling - until Asahina confirms his grip...
|(2006-01-11, Devil Doll:)
The happy ending itself was too obvious for a number of episodes already. What I was interested in was whether Asahina would plausibly change her mind. So many people have tried to convince Asahina that she's wrong - why should it work now when Miki and Honoka basically just repeat the same things again? The big bang was the previous episode already - now the series just dies of exhaustion in a way. The one downside of this series is that we're rarely ever allowed to read Suzuka's thoughts in any important scene, so she remains an enigma to the very end.
But Asahina's performance during that grave scene was wonderful! She needed to do something exceptional to convince Yamato that she's serious now after all her denial, her many rejections and her making fun of him at the firefly confession in Hiroshima. By indirectly confessing to her boy in front of the Kazuki gravestone she has overcome the two years of her nightmare, making peace with her senpai and starting again from scratch. This is what the series is all about - not the couple itself.
Honoka leaving the club is another important part of the ending: More than anyone else this girl has matured during the course of events, understanding that Yamato isn't meant to be hers, and not standing in his way. Having started as a shy and clingy maiden she became a wonderful young woman, able to counsel her rival as she's aware there's only one solution that will work for all these three friends.
And Yamato? He grew a spine, more than most other male leads in related series. Even without hope in the end he still fights for what he thinks is best for Asahina, and thus brings her back to life. He so earned his price, and being together with Asahina may become a great experience for him. But as Saotome puts it: The tough part begins from here...